Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes Overtakes Everyone in 2020 MVP Race

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystNovember 23, 2020

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

Like many of the regularly used Undertaker GIFs, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes rose from the mat when everyone thought he'd been buried in this year's MVP race thanks to another stellar performance in Sunday's 35-31 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. 

The victory established two standards. First, the Chiefs are the team to beat in the AFC West. Second, Mahomes leaped to the top of the MVP hierarchy.

At a certain point, greatness fatigue becomes very real. Ask Michael Jordan, LeBron James or Mike Trout. Each dominated their respective sport for so long that voters started to choose lesser candidates for MVP.

MJ admitted Karl Malone's 1996-97 MVP win drove him as he neared his second retirement. 

"I'm not saying he wasn't deserving of it. All I'm saying is that fueled the fire for me," Jordan revealed during ESPN's The Last Dance documentary. "... I said, 'OK, you think he's MVP? OK, fine. No problem.'"

Take the GOAT's mindset and juxtapose it onto Mahomes. Clearly, the two approach their sports differently. However, they have a similar competitive fire. Mahomes became the NFL MVP at just 23 years old. He's the reigning Super Bowl MVP. No one should ever forget what he's capable of, especially in crucial moments. 

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Yet for most of this season, the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson had been built as the runaway favorite to capture the hardware. To be fair, the six-time Pro Bowl signal-caller played exceptionally well through the first five weeks. He then threw three interceptions during a Week 7 overtime loss to the rival Arizona Cardinals. In fact, Wilson has seven interceptions during his last five performances. The Seahawks are 2-3 during that stretch. 

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

In Wilson's place, Kyler Murray rose like a phoenix from the ashes to stake his claim as the MVP front-runner only to falter rather quickly.

Arizona's second-year quarterback is the game's premier dual-threat. A spectacular and improbable 43-yard, game-winning toss to the DeAndre Hopkins, now dubbed the "Hail Murray," certainly stoked the fires in Murray's favor for a short period. A less-than-sterling effort against the Seahawks' sorry secondary and previously woeful defense Thursday didn't help matters. 

The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers entered this weekend's play as the league's most efficient quarterback. But he missed multiple throws during a 34-31 overtime loss Sunday to the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts. 

An argument can be made in Ben Roethlisberger's favor based on the Pittsburgh Steelers' undefeated record after they posted an 8-6 record in games without their franchise quarterback last year. The 38-year-old gunslinger's health has been the most important aspect to their success.

But this isn't college football. The highest-profile player on the best team doesn't automatically get serious consideration for the game's biggest individual prize. 

Mahomes is different. He isn't simply a great quarterback; he's the best overall player in a quarterback-driven league. 

His latest performance shows that no matter when, how or why the Chiefs are in trouble, all they have to do is get the ball in their franchise player's hands and everything will be all right.

Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

"We've got Patrick Mahomes. I'm not worried about anything," rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire told reporters after the Chiefs' latest victory. 

Derek Carr played exceptionally well against Kansas City. He and the Raiders had something to prove and showed what they're capable of becoming. Carr sits on the precipice of becoming an elite quarterback. He looked like one throughout the entirety of Sunday night's game until Las Vegas' final drive when he was forced to push the ball downfield—the Raiders had 19 seconds to cover 75 yards—which resulted in a game-sealing interception from safety Daniel Sorensen. 

Take a second and think about where the Chiefs sat during this contest. Kansas City's defense struggled to slow the Raiders offense, let alone stop it. Carr completed 74.2 percent of his passes for 275 yards and three scores. He showed how he could make plays in rhythm and outside structure. The Chiefs didn't have much of an answer all night. 

Carr's performance places Mahomes' brilliance into perspective. Kansas City trailed by three points with 1:43 left, and scoring again was never in question. Mahomes marched his squad 75 yards in only seven plays for the game-winning touchdown. 

"I have the ultimate confidence that if we have time on the clock, we're going to score," Mahomes told reporters

What many might not see is how the quarterback set up a wide-open opportunity for all-world tight end Travis Kelce. 

Initially, the Raiders showed split safeties at the snap. None of the receivers came open to target. Mahomes broke contain and started to work his way up the field, which drew safety Johnathan Abram toward him. The quarterback's movement skills created space for Kelce for what ended up being a relatively easy touchdown with the game on the line. 

As NFL Next Gen Stats noted, Mahomes completed nine of 15 passes when "on the run" for 105 yards and a touchdown. The yardage number ranks as the best performance in said category this season. 

This is what Mahomes does. He does these types of things on a regular basis. It doesn't matter if he's called upon to do so in what could amount to a meaningless regular-season contest or the Super Bowl. Mahomes is the game's ultimate playmaker. 

According to Stats Perform, Mahomes became the first quarterback in NFL history to post three straight efforts with 30 or more completions and a 100-plus quarterback rating. On the season, the league's highest-paid player has an outstanding 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

At 9-1, the Chiefs can make an argument they're the NFL's best team, even though the Steelers have yet to lose. Kansas City just avenged its only loss. As long as Mahomes continues to be the same player he's always been, he'll run away with the voting for a second MVP trophy and the Chiefs will be considered Super Bowl favorites

Meanwhile, all other candidates can rest in peace. 

   

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.